Government plans to invest in better animal health and welfare will deliver real benefits, say veterinary medicine manufacturers.
The roadmap outlines changes that will come into force over a period of seven years to help farmers adapt and plan for the future. It will start with an initial focus on endemic diseases among cattle, sheep and pigs.
The aim is to ensure farmers can produce healthy food sustainably and without subsidy – while taking steps to improve animal health and welfare. The goal is to achieve this by 2028 – by which time direct payments will have been phased out to farmers.
Dawn Howard, chief executive of the National Office for Animal Health said the plan echoed the industry body’s own vision paper. She added: “This will deliver benefits in terms of welfare, productivity, sustainability and resilience of farms.”
Ms Howard said NOAH was pleased to see a timetable for the government’s Animal Health and Welfare Pathway for England. But she said it was important to encourage meaningful co-operation between the devolved nations because “disease knows no borders”.
NOAH’s vision paper proposes a holistic approach to improve livestock health, animal welfare and farm businesses. And it suggests incentivising farmers to introduce endemic disease control programmes and support for vaccination.
Ms Howard said: “Vaccination is one key tool that can be used in the push to tackle endemic disease. Livestock vaccines prevent and protect against harmful disease and are an evidenced-based way to secure world leading standards in animal health and welfare.
“They are vital tools that should be harnessed at a population level and implemented into the management protocols of all livestock farms, supporting them to be proactive and progressive and forming a part of each farm health plan.”
NOAH argues that this commitment to reduce disease will help further support in the farming sector to the challenge of reducing the need for antibiotics in livestock production as it continues to play its part in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
“Professional development of farmers is also important,” said Ms Howard.
“As Defra’s plans for support for improved animal health and welfare are published, NOAH is pleased to see that over 500 UK farmers have already committed to raising standards by completing our Animal Medicines Best Practice training.”